Judging by the first track on Best Coast’s follow-up to their uber-hipster fave, 2010’s Crazy For You, the LA duo is vying for an opening slot of The Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Tour. The titles track finds Bethany Cosentino raving about the California dream… “We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair…why would you live anywhere else?”
Perhaps Beth and her bandmate Bobb Bruno haven’t been to New Zealand…it might change their tune, or they may write a new one. But not matter what your feelings are about El-Lay, The Only Place will no doubt put a smile on your with its jangly guitars and sun-soaked lyrics. “We’re gonna make it to the beach on time”. Hear that, Brian Wilson?
Elsewhere on the album, things are not so cheery. Beth is the songwriter of the duo and she seems to be writing from her own experiences. Not being a 20-something female, I’ll just have to deal with the fact that songs like Why I Cry and Dream My Life Away are not going to speak to me, at least directly.
Musically, the group continues where it left off with Crazy For You…well written pop songs with a debt to 60s girl-group and 70s singer-songwriters…Carole King meets Phil Spector. Jon Brion is on hand to handle production chore and add keyboards, lap steel, guitar and bass. Brion has produced Amiee Mann, Fiona Apple and Kanye West and is known for his baroque, orchestral sound. Fortunately, he has kept any of his excesses at bay adding just the right touch of keyboards or other musical flourishes to tracks like No One Like You and How They Want Me To Be. But not to worry, there’s nothing here that will threaten their indie cred.
Cosentino’s vocal performances are excellent throughout the album, sounding something like a cross between The Shangri-las and Neko Case. Lyrically, Beth comes off as a bit self-obsessed and something of a whiner, railing against her friends, her lovers or having to get up and go to work. Life is tough but I have a feeling she’ll cope. The album closer, Up All Night, reveals her biggest problems…she’s either crazy, lazy or bored.
On the plus side, The Only Place is full of delightful pop/rock moments…great melodies, catchy little hooks and a warm sun-kissed sound.
Click here to listen to No One Like You from The Only Place: